Sunday, July 7, 2019

Gift Giving the Stimey Way

I posted a version of this story on my Facebook page but then I realized that by limiting my audience to just my Facebook friends, maybe I'm not taking seriously enough my role as Spousal Cautionary Tale and I could probably help more people by posting my foible here as well.


Alex likes to garden in that he really enjoys planning and planting vegetables and flowers, although his follow through is less than ideal. Regardless, he always gets annoyed when he finds his fresh produce all chewed up by wild animals. His birthday is in the spring, so one March about four years ago, I had the brilliant idea to buy him a small greenhouse for his birthday.

Small, not-million-dollar greenhouses come unassembled. Because he usually gardens with Quinn (who is mostly there to eat the vegetables that the wild animals don't get to first), I thought it could be a fun project for him and Quinn to build together.

I bought him what turned out to be a gajillion little plastic and metal pieces that came with 8 million screws and a, like, 90-page instruction booklet in a big, extremely heavy cardboard box. The box lived in our dining room for about a month, then was moved out to the shed and I spent the next four years seething that Alex didn't appreciate my gift and Alex spent the next four years seething that I gave him the worst gift in the history of gifts and it all exploded in a marriage-threatening fight a couple of months ago. 
Later that day, in a fit of spite, he started to put the thing together. He built about a third of it, got tired, and said he'd finish it another day. Then it sat there for several weeks. He went out of town a couple of weeks ago and I vowed to finish putting it together before he returned.

I am *not* clever enough.

Katie and I spent a solid half hour trying to complete ONE step. By the end of that half hour, we were tired, cranky, confused, and I'd cut myself on one of the many sharp metal pieces that make up this stupid greenhouse.

I'd made a giant list of shit to get done over this past four-day weekend and in the spirit of optimism, put "greenhouse" on there as well. In the spirit of resigned sufferance, Alex stoically headed to the back yard and made a valiant effort to finish building before an oncoming thunderstorm caught him standing in small structure basically made out of lightning rods.

It's still not done, but it looks like everything but the door is attached. I figure that it will be ready for plants just about right at the end of the growing season and in time to test if it can withstand snow and winter storms.

Moral of the story: Never buy a gift that someone has to assemble unless it is a fucking puzzle.

Alex standing in a small greenhouse looking at the pieces he's holding. He's sweaty. And kinda mad
Objects may be angrier than they appear.

Monday, February 18, 2019

I Might Have Joined a Cult

It is about to get all mushy and fangirly up in here. If you love Peloton, you should read this. If you don't, and especially if you find Pelofanatics obnoxious, you should probably move along because you are just going to judge me and I am just going to annoy you. Also, this is probably going to be a long one

Cool? Cool. Now that that is out of the way, guess where I was this weekend?

Me standing in front of the Peloton storefront in NYC. I loook absurdly excited.
In New York! At the Peloton Studio! With 70 of my closest friends!
Last May, just before I had my knee surgery, I bought a Peloton spin bike. I'd done and liked spinning years and years ago when I lived in California, but hadn't done any indoor cycling for a long time. But I liked the idea of live rides and the accountability it could give me. I also liked the idea of having a machine in my bedroom where it would be easy to hop on it. I also liked the idea of being able to sit down while exercising, because what's not to like about that?

I also knew that I wouldn't be able to run after surgery for a while and I was hopeful that a Peloton would keep me working out in a lower impact way. (Spoiler: It did. Honestly, it probably saved my sanity and a lot of weight gain when I was off my knee.)

I worked out on the bike fairly regularly for the first month and a half or so that I had it (after taking off about two weeks post-surgery) and joined the main Peloton online Facebook group and read obsessively until I saw a post about a smaller Facebook group, the Peloton Monthly Challenge Tribe (PMCT), which caps membership at 250 and is all about accountability and setting challenges for yourself. I requested to join but figured it would be a while because the group was so small and I knew that they sometimes have a waitlist.

I was ridiculously excited when I was tagged in a post a few days later welcoming me to the group starting in July and telling me to set some goals and start posting about them. And also do them. Oh shit.

I had no idea what that group would become to me. 

Cut to several months later when people in PMCT started talking about their February HRI (aka "home rider invasion") wherein they travel to NYC and ride in the Peloton studio. I noted it and then noted my social anxiety and moved on. But then they talked more and more about it and finally someone put up a post asking for names of people who were not already on the list but were thinking about going and my FOMO trampled right over my social anxiety and I put my name in.

And then I said to Alex, "Hey, do you think it would be crazy if I went to New York on Valentine's Day to ride with my Facebook group over the weekend?" and his face went through a whole bunch of expressions and then settled on a smile and he said something supportive and encouraging and so I was in!

PMCT scheduled tribe rides and events from Friday through Sunday, but I decided to go for just Friday and Saturday. So instead of my traditional Valentine's Day dinner out with Alex, on Thursday I climbed on to a Tripper bus and headed to New York.

The next morning I stepped into the hotel elevator to meet PMCTers in the lobby to walk to the studio together and there were two of them right there. We were all wearing matching tribe shirts so it was easy to spot each other. I was a little concerned because I didn't really know anyone and I still felt like a newbie to the tribe, but I shouldn't have worried because those were just the first hugs and new friends of the weekend. Seriously, it's a cool group of people.

My ride in the studio that day was a milestone—my 250th Peloton ride—so I was pretty excited. A lot of other tribe members also had milestones, some as high as 1000.  That is a lot of miles. We were doing an 80's ride with JJ (Jennifer Jacobs to you non-Pelopeeps).

I was so curious about what it would be like to ride in the studio. I was in the front row of bikes so was pretty sure that when I barfed I would be lucky enough to be caught on camera. Happily that did not happen. (Neither barfing nor being caught on camera.) I did, however, sweat an incredible amount. It is really hot in there. JJ made me feel better about myself though because she also sweated a lot.

Me and JJ. I am covered in sweat, she looks perky and fresh.
She had better clothes for it though. And better abs. And better...lots of things.
She was SO nice. PMCT riders had every bike in the studio for that ride and she could not have been more gracious, both during and after. She took time with everyone and waited to take photos with anyone who wanted one. And everyone wanted one.
Photo of PMCT riders with JJ and a screenshot of her instagram story with the same photo.
We even made her Instagram story! (I'm in the back row on the right.)
Some of us even went back a second time because we wanted a photo with balloons proclaiming our milestone numbers.

Photo of me and JJ holding giant silver balloons that say "250"
It's too bad I wasn't happier about the whole thing.
After that, we all headed to brunch where we got to know each other a little better and ate things like avocado toast. I'd managed to get this far in my life without eating avocado toast, but my number was finally up.

Photo of avocado toast
I texted this photo to Alex because he's always going to New York and eating hipster stuff like avocado toast and sending me photos. His response? "Fuck you." Apparently DOJ was a bit of a shitshow that day and he was a little jealous.
At brunch I learned that some people were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge that afternoon and I thought that sounded super fun so I muscled my way in and joined the group. I didn't get anyone's permission to post their photo, so I won't share the group photos we took, but I'm looking at them as I write and those people are all so beautiful and nice. I was so happy to be among them.

I even rode the subway again. In case you're counting, that's TWO times. I have my very own Metro card now, just like a real adult person who travels to New York City. I still don't think I'm brave enough to use it by myself though. I have a lot of thoughts about the DC Metro, but at least the lines are easy to figure out. The NYC subway map is completely indecipherable to me.

Collage of photos of the Brooklyn Bridge
The bridge was a simple Point A to Point B walk so I couldn't get lost.
Immediately after all of this socializing, food, and exercise I went back to my hotel room and took a nap. Because I'm me. And of course I did.

We had a happy hour social event  that night that led into karaoke. You guys, I haven't been to karaoke in years. It was a triiiiiip. It was really nice to be able to meet more people and have some good conversations with them. There is a wide variety of people in this tribe and everyone I met was smart, kind, and had something important to say. Friday was definitely a day well spent.

When the schedule for HRI went up a month or so ago, I got really excited and scheduled myself for three rides on Saturday before my return home at 5pm. Oy. When I couldn't fall asleep Friday night and loooked up at the clock at 12:19am, I felt a little concerned about the whole thing. Regardless, I woke up alert and ready Saturday morning because my first ride was with Christine. If you ride Peloton, you probably know how amazing Christine is. She is a bike racer and a badass and all about body positivity and I LOVE HER.

Selfie of me in the studio with Christine on her bike in the background
She's there! She's right there!
This was the 2/15/19 8am 90's ride. You should ride it on demand if you can. I already have. She made a special playlist just for us and she was ON FIRE. This ride was everything. Christine is smart and encouraging and incredible and is all about believing in yourself and understanding that your body was built for something. I loved hearing her say, "Bigger or smaller, it doesn't matter. Let's all just be a little bit stronger." Hell yes.

The 45 minutes absolutely flew by and then she completely undid me at the end of class. When I re-rode it, I took a video of what she said in the last minute of class because in the studio it set me off sobbing. In public. In a spin class. Who the fuck am I?

The audio would be better if I'd been smart and stopped pedaling, but I've been well trained to keep moving.

She really speaks to me and what she said at the end was a thing I believe about this bike and the community it is building—not just my tribe but many, many more. This bike gave me people. I have worked out for years. I run by myself and will race with just a few other people whom I know well and whom I love. But I run partly because I can run alone. I Peloton because I can do it in my home. And this bike and PMCT gave me the courage to go to New York and walk into a group of seventy people and say hello. And it doesn't matter if I'm chubby or anxious or anything else because I am brave. And my body was made for something—and it is good at what it does.

There was a group photo with Christine after this ride, but I skipped it because I badly wanted an individual photo with her and had limited time before my next class, so I lurked at the front of the line. She was everything she is in class and more. She hugged me immediately. I told her I loved her and I love what she stands for and she told me she is glad that I hear her—that I hear what she is saying.
Me and CDE in front of the Peloton logo wall.
She seems like a really genuine, lovely person.
And then I floated away, happy as could be into my 9am disco class with Hannah. Fun fact: Hannah doesn't sweat. She is adorable and amazing and after class gave me posing tips.
Me and Hannah in front of the Peloton logo wall.
"Put your shoulder down," she said. She was right.
I don't ride with Hannah a lot, but I love her stretching and strength workouts. She has a very calm presence. I was also amused because she posted a video that day in her Instagram story that was just her head under our tribe's milestone balloons, which lived in the studio all weekend. I laughed really hard when I saw it.
Hannah's head in front of our silver number balloons.
Everyone loves balloons.
I wandered around with some new friends after those classes to find food and then went back to my room to shower and pack. I had to check out prior to my last class, which was a one-hour Power Zone ride with Matt.

Don't tell him, but after two rides that morning, I'm not sure that I hit all the zones I was supposed to get to. I ride Matt's long Power Zone rides all the time at home, so I was totally stoked to ride with him live. He seems like a chill, genuinely nice dude and I really like riding with him.
Photo of the PMCT group in front of the store with Matt and a photo of just he and I inside by the logo wall.
He also couldn't have been nicer to our group.
When I first got my bike, I never imagined that I would be a person who would ride in the studio, but it was a really special experience. I'm a little worried that I'm going to get obsessive and need to ride with every instructor eventually. (Well. Not that worried. Kind of excited, actually.)

The studio itself is nice. The locker rooms are clean and have plenty of lockers. The showers have shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in them and the bathroom stall doors are floor to ceiling, which is one of the best design decisions anyone can make. They have all kinds of little things that make the experience cool, like they supply bottles of water for rides so you don't have to remember yours and they have little dishes of ear plugs in case the studio is too loud and hairbands because everyone forgets their hairband sometimes.

Obviously this all costs money. (Although the studio has free walk-in classes, so that is always an option.) The Peloton bike is not cheap. In addition to buying a bike and shoes and paying for delivery, you have to pay a monthly subscription fee. I have every kind of privilege to have this bike. But I could not love it more. The monthly subscription includes classes in yoga, stretching, strength workouts, non-bike cardio workouts, and treadmill workouts. In fact, Peloton has their own treadmill now, called a Tread. I have a treadmill. I hate running on the treadmill. I badly want a Tread. I am ridiculous. If any of you are considering buying a Peloton, I have a referral code that will get you some free stuff, so hit me up.

After all of this, I headed off to catch my train. In a miraculously wonderful turn of events, my bus home was canceled, so I got to use a way better mode of transportation. That said, I did bring a little bit of Stimey to the situation by dropping a soda all over the floor in Penn Station, like a total rube.
Sunset photo out my train window and a selfie of me on the train.
Riding off into the sunset. Also known as New Jersey.
I had so many good conversations this weekend, some about Peloton, some about life, all about real, honest things that matter. I laughed SO much. I am so glad to have been able to get to know the people in this tribe and I feel like acquaintances have turned into friends. This tribe is a really incredible thing and I am so grateful for its wonderful founders. This weekend really made me feel like I am part of something. I already have HRI weekend for next year blocked off on my schedule and I am staying for the whole thing. They are going to have to pry me out of New York with a chisel.
Me in the studio after Matt's ride. I'm right up against a mirror, so you can see my reflection too.
Me on bike one after Matt's ride. Those are my peeps in the background.
One big reason I went to HRI was because I wanted to be able to link people to their Facebook posts. I have a hard time connecting with names on Facebook when I don't know the people. I never realized how nice everyone would be. New PMCT friends: thank you. I started to list names of the wonderful people I met this weekend, but the list got really long and then I was afraid I forgot someone. Here's the thing: If you were at HRI, thank you. I was freaked out to commit to coming and my anxiety was super ramped up in the days leading up this weekend.  But it was so worth it.

On her 90's ride, CDE asked, "How do you want to live your life? Afraid? Or afraid and going anyway?"

I'm going anyway. And you're coming with me.

Me in the studio in front of the Peloton logo wall
My leaderboard name guessed it: Stimey!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Estoy Aprendiendo

I am trying to learn how to speak Spanish. One thing I really regret in life is not continuing with the Spanish classes I started in junior high. Whenever I see bilingual people, I am incredibly jealous. Anyone who can speak two languages is like a miracle to me. Plus, Spanish is so useful. And two of my kids are learning it so I figure it can be like a fun secret language that we use to exclude Alex and Katie.

I am using a combination of Rocket Spanish and Duolingo and a workbook I bought off of Amazon because I like filling out worksheets.

I started over the summer, getting several lessons in before I got really busy and it kinda fell to the side.  Also, I started getting to lessons that passed my retained knowledge, so it was getting a lot harder.

But! I really want to learn, so I made it one of my new year resolutions to do at least three lessons/study sessions a week. I even made a chart.

Photo of a multicolored chart of every week of the year, each with three empty checkboxes next to them
Because if I love filling out worksheets, you know I love me a good chart.
I am not totally succeeding, but I have done at least a couple sessions each week so far and I am determined to continue. Plus, my flashcard pile is growing quite large.

I am telling you all of this because I want to post a screenshot from Duolingo that showed up when I was practicing last summer and it is the best and most me thing that could ever be. I would have made it my Facebook profile picture but for the fact that people would be all, "But you don't speak Spanish, asshole."

Screenshot showing a cartoon zombie who seems to be making a rock'n'roll gesture with his fingers and the words Yo hablo español, under which I have correctly interpreted it as "I speak Spanish."
Español zombie says "ROCK'N'ROLL!!!!"
How completely weird is that? (Answer: SO weird. Go home, Duolingo, you're drunk.)

Someday, maybe once my chart above is full of check marks, I will finally profile pic this guy. Until then, he will live on my computer desktop and charm me every damn day.

¡Hasta la próxima vez!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Introducing Project Crow!

Because I am SO good at blogging these days, I have decided to start a whole new blog. Great idea, right? What could possibly go wrong with that? Regardless, I am doing it. I have a new running project and instead of burdening all of you here with it, I am putting it elsewhere so if you're not here for running, you don't have to read endlessly about it.

So without further ado, I introduce...

masthead reading "project crow" There is a crow with lines representing a metro map behind him and also icons of a bike, runner, and walker
I could not love this masthead more.
You can read more about Project Crow over at its website, but in a nutshell, it is my effort to either Cycle, Run, or Walk (CRoW!) to my neighborhood from every DC-area Metrorail station.

I've run from three stations so far and I'm already tired. And one of them is only a mile and a half from my house.

There are more than 90 stations, so this will take a long time. Prepare to be hearing about this for quite a while. Or prepare to watch me lose interest in two weeks. It'll be one of the two. Although now that I've made this public, I will feel intense pressure to do it. So maybe just prepare to hear Future Stimey berating Past Stimey a lot.

I have a few posts up over there, so head over and check it out!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Stimey's 2019 Race Calendar

Photo of me running with caption: Stimey's 2019 Race Calendar, Getting back on (the) track!

February 3: Penguin Pace
Columbia, MD
3.1 miles
Official time: 38:56

April 28: Pike's Peek
Rockville, MD
6.2 miles
Official time: 1:12:48

May 19: Carderock Running Festival
Carderock, MD
13.1 miles
Official time: 2:58:03

June 22: Suds & Soles
Rockville, MD
3.1 miles
Official time: 35:27

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Greetings and Salutations, Oh My Long Lost Friends

How are you all? I miss you! I thought it might be appropriate to update you on how things are going for Team Stimey and check in with you all. How are things? What's the latest? Did any of you worry that I had died?

Let's see. What's happening? Well, I just got an email from Netflix that a DVD of a movie I don't remember putting in my queue has been mailed, so I have that fun surprise going for me.

I could tell you about my knee, as that is all I've been blathering on about here for the past several months. Good news! It's feeling a lot better! In fact, I ran my first race since my injury just last Sunday. It was a 10k across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Jean standing in front of a view of a bridge
Too bad it was such a dismal day out.
Good lord did I run slow—like, slower than early days running Jean, but I ran every step and, honestly, that was my goal. When I signed up for this race, I was sure I was going to have to walk some of it—I really didn't think I'd be ready. I'm proud to say I worked really hard to get to my super slow time.

This was an especially important feat after a recent neo-knee drama. A few weeks ago I had triumphantly run 4 miles without stopping and was feeling awesome about myself. A couple of hours after that I was walking into my garage when I somehow stepped into a little strap with both of my feet. I couldn't do it again if I tried. I fell. I fell hard. I fell almost entirely on my right knee, which was at least not the knee I had surgery on.

drawing of me falling in the garage
My head almooooost hit that pole. I coulda died.
I was incredibly sad. That afternoon my knee hurt but wasn't too bad. By that evening, I was contemplating opioids for the pain. The next morning I could barely walk. In both pain and mobility, it felt just like my left knee had immediately after surgery. I was heartbroken. I didn't want to spend the next several weeks recovering because I somehow calf roped myself in my garage.

Happily, the next morning, my knee was a billion times better. I was able to run again by the weekend. It was super scary and pretty painful though.

The children are pretty good. Ups and downs, ins and outs, but mostly good. They're all huge almost-adults now.

That's Katie. She's a nerd.
Katie is driving with her learner's permit these days. She has to drive for 60 hours with me before she can get her license. I got one of those "Student Driver Please Be Patient" magnets that I slap on my car when she drives. Then I saw one that said "Student Driver and Screaming Parent" and I wished I'd gotten that one although I think Katie would be even madder about that. She's actually pretty good at driving. But she's new. It's a whole thing.

There's Jack on Halloween. He's a something from Splatoon.

And Quinn. He acquired 18 pounds of candy trick or treating.

He was an emoji. A terrifying, terrifying emoji.
We still have five cats. I currently have to give Sharky eye drops five times a day, so that is great and bringing us closer together. No, not really. He eyes me with suspicion every time I get close to him and sometimes he hides under the bed from me. Then I have to put some food out as a lure and then scoop him up and hold him down while Pickles looks on in horror. It's really eroding our relationship.

Also, we're embiggening our kitchen, which, while ultimately great, was not planned out to occur at the best time. Right now they're building the outside of the new kitchen and then they will break through the wall once that is completed and we will no longer have a functional kitchen. That part of the renovation will be happening right around Thanksgiving, so I'm really looking forward to cooking a turkey in a toaster oven in the living room.

I have a new athletic project coming up that I'm pretty excited about. I've been planning it and thinking about it (and teasing it here) for months now, but haven't pulled the trigger because then I actually have to do it. Now that my knee is mostly better I think that I should get started on it soon. Also, I bought a domain for it, so I guess I really have to do it now. But I can't start until I create myself a little logo. There is order to this madness, y'all. It is called Project Crow. What do you think it is?

There's a lot going on, huh? Well, I am coping by doing absolutely nothing but playing this new kind of puzzle that a coworker introduced me to, thereby ruining my life. It's called Picross and it is the greatest. And the worst. You're welcome and I'm sorry. There are some good time-sucking apps available.

Photo of Oreo. I'm holding her paw out.
Fist bump.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

(Not) Run-zo

So. I haven't been running. After I saw my ortho in July and he broke my heart, I decided to take all of August off and maybe try running again in September. As it is not yet September, I haven't started running yet.

Because my plan is to wear the fuck out of my current knees then get new bionic ones that will surely be all kinds of technologically awesome in five to ten years, and then run the shit out of those, I am not overly concerned about long-term damage. In fact, at this point, I kinda am Team Long-Term Damage. What I'm afraid of is that I will go running and my knees will hurt really bad and then I won't be able to run even though I don't care about my knee health.

I mean, my whole thing, my whole ability to be okay with being a slow, chubby runner is that I am staying healthy so I can live and exercise until I'm really old. When I track and limit the food I eat and work out hard and still don't lose weight and I get angry at my body, I try to pull back and remember that even though it's not exactly how I want it, I should love my body because it is strong and it can run far and it does amazing things. And now it can't. And I'm dealing with a sense of being betrayed by it.

Although my knees only really hurt when I try to sit down or stand up, so as long as I remain either standing all the time or sitting all the time, I should be fine. And really, its only a problem if I'm going more than 90 degrees. *starts hauling all the low chairs in my house to a backyard bonfire*

I mean, a smarter plan would be to do leg-strengthening work, actually somehow lose weight, and do some research on what the best options are for me. So far, I've successfully started with step one. I have a Peloton now and I ride a lot and I do leg and core work through their digital app, so at least I'm not sitting on my couch eating potato chips.

I am absolutely obsessed with the Peloton (that's a whole other post), but being a runner is such a big part of my identity. I don't want to lose it. And I love to run. I just really love it. Even when it's hard, even when it sucks, even when it is hot and humid or freezing cold, I fucking love to run. I can't imagine not doing it.

After school starts, I think I'll start running on my treadmill exclusively for a while and will definitely ease into mileage. I'll let you know how it goes.